Atlas of the average human heart created from 3D CT images
6 March 2013
Researchers at Pompeu Fabra University in Spain have created a
high resolution atlas of the human heart by using statistical
analysis to average the complex data of 3D images taken from 138
The study demonstrates that an average image of an organ
along with its variations can be obtained to compare individual
cases and differentiating healthy forms from pathologies.
Scientists have created a representation of the average shape of
the heart and its variations with images in 3D from 138 fully
functioning hearts taken using multislice computed tomography (CT).
Atlas of the human heart generated by
statistical analysis of 3D CT images. Source: Pompeu Fabra
"This atlas is a statistical description of how the heart and its
components, such as the ventricles and the atrium, look," said Corné
Hoogendoorn, researcher at the CISTIB centre of the Pompeu Fabra
University. "In our analysis the population group included 138
people but it could be applied to much larger populations. We
demonstrated the feasibility of constructing this type of atlas
using many subjects, with an acceptable level of manual parameter
tuning, while still providing good numeric results".
To create this cardiac map the researchers developed a
statistical model capable of managing high quantities of information
provided by individual images. It can also collect temporary
variations, given that the heart is never motionless.
The level of detail and the possibility to extend the atlas give
it an advantage over the majority of cardiac models present to date.
The researchers believe that the study can be applied to medical
image processing, especially when segmenting, or in other words,
properly differentiating a structure to be analysed from the rest of
"The statistics of the atlas offer a continuous range of
exemplary heart shapes, which allows for the comparison of concrete
cases as well as the calculation of probabilities of the latter
belonging to the modelled population," said Hoogendoorn.
The method can be applied to the images of any other organ or
structure. It has the advantage of providing the ability to classify
and diagnose healthy shapes and pathologies as well as to
differentiate between different illnesses and even establish grading
In addition, computational simulations of the heart
electrophysiology and mechanics (as well as the mechanics of other
organs) can be based on the atlas, which can help to better plan
treatment for patients.
Hoogendoorn C. A High-Resolution Atlas and Statistical
Model of the Human Heart From Multislice CT. IEEE Transactions on
Medical Imaging 32 (1): 28-44, 2013. Doi: 10.1109/TMI.2012.2230015.